How to remove a URL from Google Search using Google Search Console

Haley Carroll

  | Published on  

September 29, 2023

Ever since social media was invented, a new common fear emerged among the masses: accidentally posting something online for all of your friends and followers to see. 

We’ve all been there - All of a sudden, you wonder: that ugly selfie you DMed to your best friend as a joke, did you actually just put that up as an Instagram story? That message you sent to your mom, did you actually just set that as your Facebook status?

Usually, thank goodness, the fear is unfounded once we go scramble into our apps and verify.
Even though we share so much of our lives online these days, not everything's meant to be publicly visible on the internet.

Surprisingly enough, this is something that’s relevant in the SEO world as well, not just social media land. 

Although most topics in SEO focus on how to get indexed and ranked by Google so that as many users as possible see your content, not every page on your website is meant to be shown to your customers. It’s important to be able to control what users see from your company online. 

Why would you want to remove a URL from the Google Search Index

  • The URL contains sensitive or private information
  • The URL has duplicated or outdated content
  • The staging environment has been indexed

Staging environment: Set up as an identical duplicate to your production environment (live website that users are supposed to see), the staging environment is a private area where releases and new functionalities are set up and tested. This is so you can see what the new content will look like and make sure everything is working before putting it on your production environment, for the whole internet to see. 

  • Your website has been hacked and now has spam pages

Here are some even more generalized guidelines to follow:

If the URL contains anything that is not appropriate for potential customers/the everyday public to see, then it should not be indexed. 

If the URL provides no value to potential leads or existing customers and could take away from their user experience, it should not be indexed, either.

Google Search Console removal VS. other methods

There are a few different ways to remove a URL from Google Search Index. The method you choose will depend on your specific situation’s needs.

Removing a URL through Google Search Console will do it quickly and with little effort on your part, but it is not a permanent removal-the longest it will be removed is around six months.

This method would be beneficial to those that need to get pages taken down quickly, but plan to make the pages public again at some point.

However, you can make Google Search Console removals permanent by following one of the methods below afterwards. 

If you would like to permanently remove the URL from search, here are a few other methods and their specific uses:

  • Add a noindex tag: This is the best method for pages that serve a purpose on your site, but are not relevant to users that find it through organic search
  • Add a canonical tag: If there are many similar or duplicate pages that are ranking, you will want to make sure only one page shows up through canonicalization.
  • Block in the robots.txt file: For specific page paths or larger sections of a website that should not be indexed. Note that if pages have already been indexed, they will need a noindex tag first and some time to be removed before this method can be effective. 
  • Delete the page: If a page has no use, purpose, or value, then it can be removed entirely. 

How to remove a URL from the index on Google Search Console

If you have a URL (or multiple) that you’ve identified should be temporarily removed from the Google Search Index, follow the steps below to remove the URL through Google Search Console. 

  1. Log into Google Search Console
  2. In the top left corner, select the property you would like to remove the URL(s) from
  1. In the left hand menu under the “Indexing” section, select the option that says “Removals.”
  1. On the “Removals” page, click on the red button in the top right corner that says “New Request.”
  1. In the pop up, you will have two options: “Temporarily Remove URL” or “Clear Cached URL.” The first option will remove the URL for about six months, and you should choose this if you plan to remove the page permanently or need more time to update the page before it is reindexed. The second option will remove the page until the next crawl. This option is appropriate if the page will be updated soon.
  2. Once you have decided which option is write for you, paste the URL or URL prefix of the pages you would like to be removed.
  3. Finally, hit “Next.”

It’s a nerve wracking experience to have content visible to the public that you don’t want them to see, but luckily it’s a manageable problem. Remember, people will remember your response and how you handled a situation just as much as the situation itself. 

Want more SEO advice like this?

At Centori, our goal is to make SEO easier for your business. That’s why we offer learning resources, easy to use software, and coaching to help you along your SEO journey-no matter where you’re at. 

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